Christian support for the restoration of the Jews to their ancient homeland has been around for as long as Christians have been able to read the Bible for themselves. For there they read about God’s covenant with Abraham in which He bequeathed to him and his descendants the land of Canaan. And they read in the Hebrew prophets that although the children of Israel may be exiled from the land for a time, that one day God would regather them to the land one final time, and draw them and then the world unto Himself.
Since much of Christian history is stained with the sin of antisemitism the modern movement of Christian support of Israel at first glance looks like a new movement, or aberration that will surely soon correct itself. However, something happened over 500 years ago that changed the course of Christianity and prepared the way for this significant shift in attitude towards the Jewish people. This event was the translation of the Bible into the vernacular language.
As soon as Christians could read the Bible for themselves they attempted to change the state church and make it more like the early church in the New Testament. This in turn brought about great persecution and many had to flee their homes and countries.
They also became aware of the Hebraic roots of Christianity and began studying Hebrew, and the Jewish Feasts, and they identified with the persecuted people of Israel. They also read that God had promised to one day regather the Jewish people to their ancient homeland and they began praying for this to happen. This means that for four hundred years before the state of Israel was established that whole movements of Christians were praying for that day.
As the number of Bible-believing Christians grew so did their influence and their involvement in the re-establishming of Israel. It was Theodore Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, who first used the term Christian Zionist in recognizing Christian participants in the First Zionist Congress in 1897.
The Bible is very clear that the Jewish people were given the land of Canaan by God Himself. He gave the land to Abraham and to his descendents through Isaac as an everlasting possession (Genesis 12:1-3) because God was forming and fashioning a people through whom He would reach the world.
Crucial to God’s redemptive purpose was the land of Canaan as a national homeland for His people. And through this nation He revealed to a lost world the Word of God, the prophets, the covenants, and the Messiah (Romans 9:4-5).
We also read in the Bible that though God said the people of Israel would be exiled from that land due to disobedience, that He promised to bring them back - and not just once, but a second time as well (Isaiah 11:11).
God is not finished with the nation of Israel for she will one day become the chief of the nations. From Jerusalem the word of the Lord will go forth to the nations and the knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. Israel’s Messiah will reign in righteousness; He will rule the nations with a rod of iron and nations will not learn war anymore (Jeremiah 31:36; Isaiah 2:2-4).
Therefore, Christian Zionists support the Jewish people’s return to the land and the rebuilding of their nation. Now as throughout history, Israel’s enemies seek to destroy the Jewish state and wipe it off the face of the earth but we will stand with Israel and will not be silent (Isaiah 62:6).
We as Christians must comfort Israel (Isaiah 40:1), bless her (Genesis 12:3), pray for her (Psalm 122:6) and encourage her with God’s precious eternal Word.
The Time for A New Relationship
Christian Zionists recognize the immense spiritual debt that Christianity owes the Jewish people for from them came all that we hold dear. And as one author titled her book: Christianity is Jewish. We are indebted to the Jewish people and owe them honor, respect and support.
As Christians, we also recognize with sorrow and repentance the role that many Christians have played in the persecution of the Jewish people throughout history. And we aspire to correct this and build a new relationship based on mutual respect and understanding.
The Facts Are On Israel’s Side
In addition to our reading of the Bible, we also support Israel because we have studied the history of the modern State of Israel and we know that the facts are on her side. She is a legal nation, on legally acquired territory and she has the right to exist and to exist in secure borders. Though Israel is a nation like all nations - she may not be perfect, nor all of her policies the best - yet she is legal and morally right in her establishment and existence. While she is surrounded by countries and organizations committed to her destruction, we stand for her right to exist in secure borders.
Susan Michael is the US Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.